Injuries are still one of the most common causes of children’s morbidity and death. That is why the prevention of injuries together with prevention of long-term impact of chronic diseases in children was a priority of funding from Norway grants in the last few years. Except big investment projects, the support was given to awareness raising activities run by NGOs. Children were given chance to try e. g. to help to save their drowning friends, they visited their injured mates in hospital and tried to empathize with person with mental anorexia through theatre. In the upcoming programme period, one of funding priorities will be care for children's health, this time specifically focused on mental health.
The fates of children, which fell into garden pool or drown on public swimming pool due to inattention, for example after being sucked in filtration, are among the worst that can happen to parents and their closed ones. Number of children who die this way is on decrease in Czech Republic during the last few years, fortunately, but still about two hundred people drown each year. Coastal states like Spain or Italy register a much smaller number per capita. Small children are a very high-risk group. Marcela Sedláčková from organization Centrum péče o děti a rodinu (Child and Family Care Centre) decided to change it and to help by conducting prevention activities. “We saw that, in contrast to e. g. prevention of traffic accidents, no one systematically covers this topic. It can be often about very basic rules, which people unfortunately don’t know. Drowning person should try to calm down and lay on his back on the water surface, no matter if they can or can’t swim. I have seen on my own eyes how even six months old baby could do it after training. If you are saving drowning person, better come to the person from behind to prevent eventual attack on rescuer. Even little child can cause an adult to drown. Moreover, it is very important that adults looking after children hand over responsibility to each other and are at all times sure which one is overseeing the child at the moment,” explains project manager of Centrum péče o děti a rodinu Mgr. Marcela Sedláčková. Together with Vodní záchranná služba ČČK (Water ambulance of Czech Red Cross), the centre created an awareness raising campaign, prepared the website bezpecnedetstvi.cz and made nearly 70 stops travelling around the water areas across the Czech Republic with their team. Children and parents experienced how difficult it is to swim in water-soaked clothes, to save someone using “wobbler” or “water noodle”. “Children enjoy it, the opportunity to try it in practice is very important. And not only for them, but also for adults. The greatest reward for us is in filed, when people thank us and tell us, that it makes sense,” described Sedláčková. They established international cooperation with Norwegian Ambulance in the project and are now seeking opportunities of finance the translation of materials made in the project to Norwegian. At the same time, in the future, they would like to involve virtual reality in preventive demonstrations to make them more attractive for older children.
Sdružení D (Association D) from Olomouc has also been involved long-term in prevention programmes for children. They involve children into their activities through theatre techniques, e. g. roleplaying or “live images”. From Norway grants, they gained support for a project focused on prevention of eating disorders. Lecturers play the role of friends one of which has a problem with anorexia and they involve children into the story in different situations. “Through a personal experience, the topic gets ‘under their skin’. If they subsequently see that someone is in trouble, they will rather be able to understand and turn to help. At the same time, thanks to the technique, children are opening more. Someone starts to describe a friend who was dealing with this type of problem. Someone else knows another person, who is just struggling with it now and needs help,” describes Magdaléna Strejčková, head of Personality Development and Preventive Programs of Sdružení D.
They toured with their programme the eighth and ninth grades of about twenty elementary schools in Olomouc region, Zlín region and Moravia-Silesian region. Volunteers from classes joined the project and spread the awareness about the theme on their own. In the end over two hundred of them joined. “We were surprised how much enthusiasm they put into it. We gave their teachers a complete methodology and advices how to implement the campaign. Students were often very creative, they made posters, added their own stories and videos,“ depicts Magdaléna Strejčková. A website www.jsemkdojsem.cz and a campaign with reports or videos were created in the project. In the future, Sdružení D would like to further inter-connect their main activities to deliver help in the most effective way. They consist of intense and long-term work with schools, volunteering work with children with social issues, effecting on family, where the child grows up. At the same time they feel a demand for other preventive programs containing e. g. themes like self-harming, which originates from big pressure on achievement and performance of children.
It is precisely the mental health of children that will be one of the thematic areas for open calls for projects for which applicants can apply in the coming period of Norway grants this autumn. It will contain e. g. projects on improving skills and knowledge connected to mental health among the most important persons around children - parents, teachers and healthcare workers, introducing innovative treatment methods, supporting the emergence of multidisciplinary teams, and raising awareness of children’s mental health (details here).
In previous period of Norway grants, 167,4 million CZK was allocated to a priority “care for children’s health”. This sum was divided between bigger and smaller projects. About 55 thousands of children were involved in prevention activities. Programme CZ 11 was focused on support of prevention activities, that is prevention of illness and injuries (primary prevention) on one hand, early recognition of health problems which already developed (secondary prevention) on the other hand, and simultaneously on improvement of bad health condition, minimizing handicap and return to everyday life (tertiary prevention) as well as rare diseases (detail here).